Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

This recipe was passed onto me by my Aunt Barb and she told me she first remembers eating it at her aunt’s home for Thanksgiving when she was a little girl.  So it’s been in our family for over 40 years!  When something has been around for 40 years and people are still making it, you know it’s good!  Not a single Thanksgiving goes by withtout this dish on our table.  

If you haven’t tried it yet, you probably need to.

Sweet Potato Recipe Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

modifying a classic

I know this recipe has already become a favorite for a lot of you out there since I first shared it, but I decided it needed a little make-over and some new pictures. I altered the recipe a bit based partly on your comments! It was no secret these were very sweet, so I played around with it and found I could cut down the sugar by quite a bit. (From one cup to 6 tablespoons!)

less butter & Sugar, but still amazing

I also cut down the butter by a couple of tablespoons in the sweet potatoes and a couple of tablespoons in the topping. So all in all I removed almost 2/3 cup sugar and a half a stick of butter, but it still tastes sweet and rich and perfect. Now you can spend those calories on an extra slice of pie. I also used fresh sweet potatoes after shocking some of you foodies by admitting that my family has been making this with canned ones for years.

Sweet Potato Recipe Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

Honestly folks? there’s not all that much difference in the finished product, so I say go with whatever your little heart desires (pssst, I almost always use canned.)

Fyi, if you only want to make a half-batch, like to put in n 8x8 pan or pie plate, then those mini cans of sweetened condensed milk are the exact amount you need- just one mini can. I show a picture of the mini cans in this post. Also refer to that post if you make a full batch, and you're wondering how to use the other half of that can of sweetened condensed milk.

You’ll mix up sweet potatoes, butter, a little sugar, vanilla, eggs (I know what you’re thinking: this is sounding like pie) and the secret ingredient, sweetened condensed milk.

Sweet Potato Recipe Thanksgiving Side Dish Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

FYI, if you only want to make a half-batch, like to put in n 8×8 pan or pie plate (which is actually what I’m doing in these photos) then those mini cans of sweetened condensed milk are the exact amount you need- just one mini can. I show a picture of the mini cans in this post. Also refer to that post if you make a full batch, and you’re wondering how to use the other half of that can of sweetened condensed milk.  Spread that out into a casserole dish.

Fyi, if you only want to make a half-batch, like to put in n 8x8 pan or pie plate, then those mini cans of sweetened condensed milk are the exact amount you need- just one mini can. I show a picture of the mini cans in this post. Also refer to that post if you make a full batch, and you're wondering how to use the other half of that can of sweetened condensed milk.

Now the topping.  OH THE TOPPING.  In my family, we always double the topping.  Three simple ingredients that are oh so amazing when they get all caramelized in the oven.

Sweet Potato Recipe Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

Sprinkle that on top.  Seriously guys this whole recipe takes less than 10 minutes to whip up.

Sweet Potato Recipe Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

Bake it for about 40 minutes and the potatoes puff up and the topping turns into heaven. 

Sweet Potato Recipe Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

They’re kiiiiinda amazing.

Sweet Potato Recipe Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

Chances are if you try them once, they’ll become a tradition!

Sweet Potato Recipe Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes


Candied Coconut Sweet Potatoes

5 from 4 votes
These candied coconut sweet potatoes will be the star of your Thanksgiving table! Creamy sweet potatoes with a caramelized coconut topping. To. Die. For.


  • 4 cups mashed sweet potatoes about 4 medium sweet potatoes or two 29-ounce cans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter no margarine, softened or melted
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 of a 14 ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk about 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • If you're feeling naughty you can double this part...
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Add sweet potatoes, sugar, butter, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla to a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until creamy. Spread in a 9x13 pan.
  • Mix topping ingredients together until everything is incorporated and sprinkle over sweet potatoes.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes until topping is golden brown.


  • You can make these a day ahead of time and then bake when ready!
Author: Our Best Bites
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. Very interesting recipe! Would never think of making something sweet from potatoes… inspired 😉


  2. I've been making a recipe like this more years, yummy! The only differences are I put the coconut in the sweet potato mixture (not the topping) and add chopped pecans to the topping. I think I will use your suggestion and cut down the sugar. The are super sweet and candy like!

  3. I made these last year for Thanksgiving and it was the first dish empty. People were even eating this for dessert after dinner- they are that good. Oh I can hardly wait to make these again…

  4. You forgot the chopped pecans/walnuts in the coconut brown sugar candy topping!! Thats the besst part.

    I make these every year (never thought of sw cond milk though)!

  5. I shouldn't read all of these posts before I eat breakfast! I will be adding this to my thanksgiving menu for sure!

  6. I have made these several times now, including Thanksgiving. Even my sweet potato haters like them. I feed a pretty big group every day…7 to be exact. It is hard to please everyone all at once. These were great. The reason I am adding the post is because like Kate, I like fresh better than canned. I was at the grocery store last week and noticed that OreIda has Steam-n-mash Sweet Potatoes in the freezer section. They make things easy without having to do the canned thing. I paired them with some caramel apple pork chops for dinner. Okay, so maybe it was a little sugar rush for dinner, but it was so yummy.

  7. Coconut milk- Bethany that is a *great* idea, why didn’t I think of that?! I’m going to have to try that some time, it sounds fabulous!

  8. I made these for Christmas Eve dinner at a friends house tonight–they were a huge hit! I actually subbed 1/2 c. coconut milk for the sweetened condensed milk, I only used 1/4 c. brown sugar in the potatoes and 1/2 c. in the topping (full butter though!) It was plenty sweet and everyone gobbled them up. (Except my friend’s kids who wouldn’t try them to find out they were yummy!)

    Thanks for the great recipe. I looked here first because I knew I could get a keeper instead of a flop.

  9. These are sooooo delicious. Everyone at Thanksgiving dinner loved them. I’ll be making them again this week and hoarding them all to myself. I listened to Kate though, and lessened the amount of sugar. The condensed milk makes it sweet enough that you really don’t need much sugar. I probably did about 1/4 a cup. These will definitely be a new staple at Thanksgiving. Thanks!!

  10. I just made these and they’re in the oven right now. My topping didn’t turn out crumbly and I’m wondering why. Any ideas? I probably didn’t measure correctly.

  11. In my 3 years married, this is going to be the first Thanksgiving dinner that I’m actually going to attempt to make. Thanks for the recipes. I love candy, butter, sugar, butter, sugar, and deliciousness, so I think this recipe is perfect for me.

  12. I just started to blog and I first want to tell ya. I love your blog.
    I seriously will be making this awesome looking dish for Thanksgiving. THanks so much love the pictures it looks so YUMMY 🙂

  13. I signed up for our work thanksgiving potluck a few days ago and planned on making these, now I don’t have to dig up the recipe, thanks Sara. And if anyone is wondering, no -our potluck is not on thanksgiving day, I do work a lot, but my work is not that cruel. For thanksgiving I will actually be in ‘my most favorite city on earth!”. (First person to name the city and best bites reference wins 1,000,000,000 best bites points!!!)

  14. I started drooling the moment I read this recipe and immediately emailed my mom and asked if I could be in charge of the sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner this year. I can not wait to try them! And I agree with Kate- fresh is better.

  15. Oh, and Kate, they certainly aren’t lacking in sweetness, so I’m sure you’re right that they still have plenty if you cut it back! I’ll have to try it sometime, but not on Thanksgiving 🙂 lol.

  16. There is no way I am not going to try this. Add coconut to anything and I am game! It does seem like a pie recipe to me. Pie for the main course… I’m not going to complain 🙂

  17. Britanie- have I ever let you down?? lol. I promise these sweet potatoes will NOT be ignored!

  18. I always feel sorry for the sweet potatoes at our Thanksgiving dinner because no one ever eats them. I’m tempted to trust you Sara and try these out this year.

  19. I promise, I’m not being stingy with the sugar here! 🙂 I’m wondering if maybe if fresh sweet potatoes are sweeter than canned sweet potatoes? Because 1/2 c. sugar is *more* than enough with fresh, bordering on too much. Like sweeter, hands-down, than any dessert we have for Thanksgiving.

    But I agree with doubling the topping… 🙂

  20. Oh my gosh . . . this AND rosemary facaccia! I wonder if this would also be amazing as a pie? I am going to try this and maybe give it a try as a pie! Coconut cream sweet potatoes . . .

  21. DOUBLE THE TOPPING!!!! I have been eating these for years and I think it is worth it to include ALL the sugar and twice the topping. It’s Thanksgiving for crying out loud, when else are you going to eat that way?!

  22. Okay, one more thing and then I promise I’ll shut up! 🙂 I’ve made these a couple of days ahead of time and stored them in the fridge until we’re ready to cook them–just wait to add the topping until you’re ready to bake them. A super-easy way to cut down on your Thanksgiving stress.

  23. mmm…. that looks tasty. I’ll do fresh sweet potatoes though, canned makes me squeamish…

  24. Oh yeah. . . that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

    I honestly never really loved Thanksgiving until I met this recipe. (thanks Aunt Barb) I dream about these sweet potatoes year round.

    Plus this recipe has made me famous at church parties.

    Oh, and Sara – I love your knowledge of Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes.

  25. Oh, I was also going to say that I’m a stickler on only using fresh yams, but I also get that that’s not always realistic… 🙂

  26. These are sosososososososo good!!! Seriously, everyone here LOVES them and is shocked that a girl not from the South can make the best sweet potatoes they’ve ever had!

    I’ve been cutting the white sugar in the potatoes down to 1/2 c. and it’s still really, really sweet so I’ve been considering cutting it even further. But seriously, my husband HATES sweet potatoes (I know, I know, you’re SHOCKED) and he loves these. So all of you who don’t like them, give these a shot!